by Judson Edwards Smyth & Helwys Publishing Inc.
129 pages. $15
With wry, self-effacing humor, author and former pastor Judson Edwards tells of his struggles and modest successes with writing – for instance, a royalty check that paid for only a single celebratory meal for his family at Burger King. Such refreshing candor means his is a relatable narrative for writers who haven't broken through to superstardom. Though Blissful Affliction is written in the tradition of books like Annie Dillard's The Writing Life or Stephen King's On Writing, it is neither simply a Christian version of these works nor a writing book with a little faith-talk sprinkled in for good measure. To the contrary, Edwards's discussions of the interplay of faith and writing are highlights of the book. He advocates for excellence in Christian writing, holding up a mirror to show how Christian writers and publishers have some room to grow. His gentle but astute admonitions will resonate with those who have encountered well-meaning but poor-quality work done in God's name.
Descriptions of the author's book-writing process are relatively standard fare in this genre, but Edwards's narrative retains its charm through these sections with that same mixture of dry jokes, sincerity, and thoughtful reflections on Scripture as well as other writers' words about writing (it is quotation-heavy). This slim, accessible volume makes for an enjoyable afternoon of reading for writers of all experience levels, and chapters such as "The Evangelical Mentality" and "Holy Shoddy" contain some gems of advice and would make good required reading for young or novice Christian writers.
Book Reviewed by Amanda Dreher who holds a B.A. in professional writing from Taylor University. She has written for Church Libraries, Christian Book Previews, Christian Communicator, The Express, The Aboite Independent and WBCL radio.